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Laurel Slots Case Dismissed For Now

Maryland's highest court has put the brakes on an effort by Laurel Racing Association to get back in the bidding for a slot-machine license in Anne Arundel County, ruling the legal challenge was premature.

In an opinion issued today, the Court of Appeals sent Laurel's lawsuit back to the Anne Arundel Circuit Court and ordered it dismissed.

The high court said the appropriate time for a legal challenge would not come until after a state commission issues a slots license in Anne Arundel, a move not expected before this fall. Before turning to the courts, Laurel would also need to appeal the license decision to a state contracts board, the high court said.

The state commission picking slots operators dismissed Laurel's bid in February because Laurel did not include a required multi-million licensing fee with its application. The only qualified bid for Anne Arundel pending before the state commission, by Baltimore-based Cordish Cos., would put 4,750 machines at Arundel Mills Mall.

A spokeswoman for the Maryland Attorney General's Office, which argued the case for the state, said it is pleased with the ruling. A spokesman for the Maryland Jockey Club, which operates the Laurel Park racetrack, said such a late appeal would generate considerable uncertainty for Maryland's slots program.

Still, the fate of the Cordish bid in Anne Arundel remains far from certain. A bill to make a needed zoning change has been stalled for months before the Anne Arundel County Council.

Anne Arundel is one of five jurisdictions in which Maryland voters authorized slots in a referendum last fall. The state has received a single bid each for locations in Baltimore, Cecil County and Worcester counties. A proposed location in Allegany County drew no qualified bids.

By John Wagner  |  July 20, 2009; 11:23 AM ET
Categories:  John Wagner  
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